Sensitive teeth is a common condition. If your teeth ache when you eat or drink something cold, hot, or sweet, you may have sensitive teeth. The discomfort you feel can be intense at times and even cause you to avoid the foods and drinks you love. But you shouldn’t have to, because there are ways to reduce sensitivity.
One option is to use toothpaste for sensitive teeth. It contains certain active ingredients that are supposed to relieve sensitivity. Does it actually help? It depends.
How Does Sensitive Toothpaste Work?
The way sensitive teeth toothpaste relieves sensitive teeth is by blocking the pain sensors that respond to the stimuli (heat, cold, sugar, etc.). It doesn’t work instantly, but it builds up over time to reduce sensitivity. After using the toothpaste every day, twice a day, for a few weeks you should start to notice an improvement.
Active Ingredients that Reduce Sensitivity
Sensitive toothpastes may contain any one or a combination of the following ingredients.
- Potassium nitrate. This works as a nerve calming ingredient. The ions in potassium work to prevent the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain when an aggravator is introduced, like cold or heat.
- Stannous fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral that fortifies the enamel of your teeth. Stannous fluoride relieves sensitivity by creating a protective layer over the pores in your enamel that lead to the nerves. It prevents the sudden sensation of cold or heat from triggering your pain sensors.
- Strontium chloride. A silvery metal, when added to sensitive teeth toothpaste, strontium chloride has been shown to relieve the pain associated with sensitive teeth. However, the safety of this ingredient is still debated, which is why the previously listed ingredients are more common.
What if Sensitive Toothpaste Doesn’t Work?
Many people experience relief of their sensitive teeth by using the toothpaste, but for others it may be ineffective. If your teeth are still severely sensitive, there are other things your dentist may be able to do for you.
- Fluoride treatment. Your dentist can apply a fluoride treatment directly to your teeth. This contains a higher concentration of fluoride than toothpaste. Fluoride fortifies the enamel and may help to block the pain sensors in your teeth.
- Gum grafting. Sometimes the reason your teeth are sensitive is because the roots are partially exposed due to receding gums. Gums naturally wear away from your teeth over time and may pull away due to gum disease. Gum grafting replaces this lost gum tissue to cover the exposed roots and reduce sensitivity.
- Composite bonding. Composite resin is the material dentists use to fill cavities in your teeth. It can also be applied to the exposed roots and crowns of your teeth to reduce sensitivity. The composite resin can block the pain receptors in the teeth from being triggered by heat and cold.
- Root canal. Extreme sensitivity can also indicate the need for a root canal. If a cavity is deep enough it can allow the soft pulp inside of your tooth that contains the nerves to be exposed and possibly infected. An infected tooth can cause severe pain, but in some cases the tooth just becomes sensitive. A root canal procedure removes all of the soft pulp, including the nerves, from inside the tooth and fills it up with composite resin. This prevents sensitivity because there are no more pain receptors left in the tooth.
Smile Makers Comprehensive Dentistry Can Provide Relief for Sensitive Teeth
If you’ve tried sensitive teeth toothpaste without success, Smile Makers Comprehensive Dentistry can help. Along with our complete range of dental services, we provide plenty of options for relief of tooth sensitivity. You don’t have to continue to suffer from tooth pain every time you want to eat or drink certain things. And in addition to relief from sensitivity, many of the treatments will also improve your dental health.